Nursing workers protest unfair contracts

  • 2008-09-03
  • By TBT staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Rows over pay  for public servants spread to the health care system as  workers at three different Estonian nursing homes  refuses to sign contracts saying that their pay rises are too small and unfair.
The protester say the new contracts that they have been asked to sign do not take account of length of service and difficult of job.

The protests are taking place at Somera Hooldekodu, Valkla and Ravila nursing homes, where workers believe that parent company AS Hoolekandeteenused (Welfare Service) has been unfair to them.
"It's strange that a person who has done his or her job well for 15 years can't get a decent  salary because the 8,000-kroon (511-euro) salary is meant only for junior workers." 
A junior activity instructors' wage is 7,000  kroons, and their assistants will get 6000 kroons.
According to sources only 11 of 52 workers at the Somera nursing home will get the maximum salary. That includes those working evening and night hours as well.

The social minister, Marit Maripuu says that since January 2008, activity instructors must receive a salary of at least 8,000 kroons. Yet no activity instructors from Somera nursing house have been paid that amount of money.
Less than a month ago, Maarja Mandmaa, chairman of board at AS Hoolekandeteenused, told Oma Saar that an increased salary would be on August's payroll. Worker claim that they have been deceived and that Mandmaa  did not mention that the increased salary was  meant for those who have signed the new contract.
"We have signed a collective agreement, and according to that, the salaries were supposed to rise," said the activity instructor.

Harry Taliga, chairman of Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions, has sent a letter to Mandmaa protesting about the situation
"According to workers at nursing homes, there has been much tension … because on new contracts, it's not understandable to workers why people doing the same job will get different salaries," the letter said. Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder  visited to Somera and Kogula nursing homes in July 2008 that discovered several constitutional rights violations.

In Somera, several people requested the right to live with their partners this had been allowed only on a temporary basis. One couple who were separate had been married. were married.
People living in Somera also alleged that workers use violence against them, and complained about alcohol consumption and violations of house rules. Although Somera rules permit no more than three people to a room, people living there say that there are sometimes up to five people live in one room.